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north korea missile program


North Korea has reacted after the US drafted the UN sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang vowed to retaliate and make “the US pay a price”.

The sanctions, which were unanimously passed by the UN on August 5, were a “violent violation of our sovereignty,” the official KCNA news agency said.

Separately, South Korea says North Korea has rejected an offer to restart talks, dismissing it as insincere.

The sanctions will aim to reduce North Korea’s export revenues by a third.

The UN Security Council decision followed repeated missile tests by North Korea which have escalated tensions on the peninsula.

In its first major response on August 7, North Korea insisted that it would continue to develop its controversial nuclear weapons program.

The state-run KCNA news agency said North Korea would “not put our self-defensive nuclear deterrent on the negotiating table” while it faces threats from the US.

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Pyongyang threatened to make the US “pay the price for its crime… thousands of times,” referring to America’s role in drafting the UN sanctions resolution.

Speaking to reporters at a regional forum in the Philippine capital, Manila, North Korean spokesman Bang Kwang Hyuk said: “The worsening situation on the Korean peninsula, as well as the nuclear issues, were caused by the United States.

“We affirm that we’ll never place our nuclear and ballistic missiles program on the negotiating table, and won’t budge an inch on strengthening nuclear armament.”

The remarks come after reports emerged that the North and South Korean foreign ministers had met briefly on August 6 on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila.

South Korean media reported that its Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shook hands with her North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, in a brief and unarranged meeting at an official dinner event.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Kang Kyung-wha as saying that Ri Yong Ho’s rejection of the talks proposal appeared to be connected to the new sanctions.

“I told him that [the two offers for talks] are an urgent matter that should be carried out immediately with any political agenda put aside and asked him to proactively react,” she was quoted as saying.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists on August 7: “My feeling is that the North did not entirely reject the positive proposals raised by the South.”

Wang Yi added that China also supported South Korea’s initiatives, and was “100%” committed to enforcing the latest round of UN sanctions.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also at the ASEAN forum, where he spoke about North Korea.

Noting Russia and China’s participation in the unanimous vote, Rex Tillerson told journalists it was clear there was now “no daylight among the international community” on their desire for North Korea to stop its tests.

“The best signal that North Korea can give us [is] that they are prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” he added.

Russia and China have previously differed with others on how to handle Pyongyang, but in recent months have joined calls for North Korea to stop its missile tests – while also urging the US and South Korea to halt military drills, and withdraw an anti-missile system from the South.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the US government is not seeking a regime change in North Korea.

“We’re not your enemy,” he said, adding that the US wanted a dialogue at some point.

However, a Republican senator said President Donald Trump had told him there would be a war with North Korea if its missile program continued.

North Korea claimed its latest missile could hit the US west coast.

The second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 28, celebrated by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was the latest to be conducted in defiance of a UN ban.

Referring to the border between the Koreas, Rex Tillerson said: “We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek the collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel.

“We’re not your enemy, we’re not your threat but you’re presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond.”

Image source Flickr

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President Trump has repeatedly criticized China, which shares a land border with North Korea and is its closest economic ally, for not doing enough to stop Pyongyang’s weapons program.

However, Rex Tillerson took a more diplomatic approach, saying that “only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation”.

“But, we do believe China has a special and unique relationship, because of this significant economic activity, to influence the North Korean regime in ways that no one else can,” he added.

In a separate development, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that President Trump told him that there would be a military conflict between the two countries if Pyongyang continued with its aim to develop a missile program with the US in its range.

“There will be a war with North Korea over their missile program if they continue to try to hit America with an ICBM,” Lindsey Graham said.

“He [President Trump] has told me that, I believe him, and if I were China I would believe him too, and do something about it,” he said in an interview with NBC’s Today show.

Lindsey Graham added: “If there’s going to be a war… it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And he [President Trump] has told me that to my face.”